Category Archives: African American

Miya’s Summer Bubbles

Miya’s Summer Bubbles

By Carleen Cifton Bragg, African American Photographer, Illinois.

“I live in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood. There are three beautiful small lakes near where I live. Sometimes, I visit the park with a cup of my morning coffee. Sitting on the bench by the water, I gaze at the still water and the geese enjoying their group gatherings, and naturally, I smile. Watching the geese swimming makes me happy. It’s the most beautiful cornerstone in the neighborhood that I depend on as a quick getaway. It is my home away from home. In the autumn, it’s especially breathtaking! I call this ‘My Peace Spot’ for the tranquility it offers me. Last autumn, I took some of the most stunning photographs here!

“I developed an interest in photography at the age of five. I credit my parents for planting the seeds when they purchased me my first camera. They have continued to support my interest in photography over the years. I started as a self-taught photographer, but later trained with the New York Institute of Photography. I try to capture sports moments, glamour, landscapes, music, theater, and street life. I am enamored with the works of the ‘late greats’ like Gordon Parks and James Van Der Zee.

“My photos have been published by Tyler Perry’s Production: Why Did I Get Married?, Today’s Photographer Magazine, and the International Library of Photography. I am a three time-winner of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity. I also had a solo exhibit—my first One-Woman show in 2011 at the ARC Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.”

Black History Month Poem: Resilience

Resilience

To observe the annual Black History Month, we are pleased to present “Resilience,” a poem by Arianna Shaprow Crain, age 12, a seventh grader in Nevada. Arianna was interviewed this morning and was asked to read her poem by KTNV News, on their ‘Good Morning Las Vegas’ show. The poem will also be published in our upcoming Spring 2024 issue (Mar. – Aug. 2024). You can also download the poem here.

“Resilience” explores the African Diaspora and chronicles the struggles of the vibrant, defiant members of my family. In the midst of our tragedies, my ancestors were able to find peace and navigate the rough terrain that lie ahead. They were slaves in Holly Springs, Mississipi. After the Emancipation Proclamation, they migrated to Chicago for more opportunities. In Chicago, they had to endure racism and segregation, which negatively impacted their employment. My great grandmother became a maid at a hotel and raised 13 children. She had to endure an endless cycle of poverty. Much of our history was lost, because we were stolen from our homeland. Even though our cultural identities were dismantled, my ancestors found comfort in music, stories, and our love for one another. We are resilient, and we are survivors. I know that I am a survivor, because I am here to tell you my story.

We were taken
from our homelands
our prosperity and sense of community
stolen from us
our families torn apart
cultural identities dismantled
forgotten…

forced to work all day
beneath the blistering hot sun
dehydrated and burned out
bruised knees, scraped elbows
wounded from whips
desperately yearning for a way out
but their cries were never heard

They locked us
in an endless loop of poverty
mental illness
disease
and depression

from Holly Springs, Mississippi
and the shackles of slavery
to Chicago
seeking independence
and “liberty”
this was the journey of my ancestors

We were never freed
after the Emancipation Proclamation
never freed
from generational trauma
and pain

rejected
from schools
unable to receive the education
that we deserved

Oppression
Segregation
Stereotypes
and racism
Poverty naturally followed
Haunting us…

A never-ending maze
with no exit
only dead ends.

My relatives suffered
rat bites and tuberculosis as babies
gunshot wounds and addiction as adults
no money for doctors
unstable living conditions
poor ventilation
never knowing
what’s next…

Surviving paycheck to paycheck
Food stamps, welfare
Evictions and discrimination
13 of my aunts and uncles
lived in a tiny apartment
5 slept on a single, soiled mattress
a drumline of tragedies

Many of them
broke the cycle
my grandmother became the first
African American female Assistant District Attorney
in El Paso, Texas
scholarships and hard work paved her way

My mother is a survivor
of PTSD and panic attacks
a single mother who cares for me
with unwavering love

We don’t know
much of our history
or where in Africa
we come from

The knowledge of our history
was stripped away from us
buried deep in our family’s past
it remains a mystery…
One thing that will never
be taken away from us
Is our culture
We have created
a rich culture
Through centuries of oppression
our coping mechanisms
soothed us
comforting melodies
gospel
jazz
blues
and soul

What do we have?
We have our imagination
We redefine and reframe
To make us sane

documents detail our ancestors’ stories
Defiant
And bold
full of vibrant characters
riveting music
and soulful dishes

When I am fearful
I remember to be courageous
I remember I have ancestors
who were beaten and lynched

My ancestors were
Slaves
Survivors
Refugees
Migrants

This is my lineage
This is my history
We are resilient
Resilient survivors

—Arianna Shaprow Crain, age 12, grade 7, Nevada.

Beneath A Tree

Happy Earth Day to all our subscribers and readers of Skipping Stones Magazine. To Celebrate Earth Day, we share with you a short poem by our contributor Maggie d., an African American poet in Washington. Enjoy it!
 

Beneath A Tree

Someone planted a tree
For me
To get out of
The sun
And enjoy the fun
Of reading a book
Under a roof of pine
Scented branches
Leaving behind my
Stuffy room
And watch
Zooming birds build
Their nest
Without rest
A hardy thank-you goes out
To the person
Who planted a tree
For birds and people like me
 
By maggie d., African American poet, Washington. She adds:
The poem erupted from a shade tree being cut down where I live.”

Remembering Kwanzza

Remembering Kwanzza

I announced,  “Happy Kwanzza!”

Out of a genuine gesture

Of brotherhood

Without doubting whether I should

To a fellow stranger

Who was not in my brown

Skin

He was filled with wonder when

The words spilled out of my mouth

And asked, “Are you talking to me?”

Of course I am, I replied

It IS about unity and building

Relationships

“Oh!” he said with a startled look

Passing along the surprise in his

Eyes to the multi-heritage child

Whose hand he held

“Happy Kwanzza!” she erupted

Breaking the quiet stillness in 

The check-out line

Barely old enough to speak or

Understand

—maggie d., African American poet, Washington.

In Search of Cool

Summer is here

They say heat is good for

Tomatoes

And wiggling toes in warm

Sand

But ants are trying to tell us

Something

Diligently building mounds of

Dirt between cracks in

Sidewalks

It is going to be a scorcher

I think

I do not want to be a prisoner of

The Sun I hum

Left to find a place to hide from

The hurting burn

City shade is sparse

Do you hear the asphalt whispering

Beware of the sweltering black

Streets?

By maggie d., African American poet, Washington.

What Peace Is to Me

What Peace Is to Me by Paulette Ansari, Georgia.
 
Peace within is so many different things to each of us.
 
Peace is being able to sit in the grass reading a good book and not be devoured by insects.
 
Peace is being able to speak passionately about one’s life and not be labeled “angry black woman”.
 
Peace is being able to go to any public place in the U.S. (in the world even) and not have to worry about being treated badly or unfairly because you are a different race, creed, or religion or because you happen to be a woman.
 
Peace is having enough time to read a great book, knowing you won’t be disturbed.
 
Peace is knowing all is well with the people you love.
 
Peace is being able to laugh with others at yourself.
 
Peace is knowing God’s will for your life and walking in it.
 

Celebrating Women’s History Month

In Honor of Women’s History Month,

Soroptimist International of Eugene & Skipping Stones’ Creative Writing Contest

As we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, Soroptimist International of Eugene and Skipping Stones invite youth to share their creative writing that promotes an awareness of Women Discoverers and Inventors from Around the World.
Eligibility:  Open to ages 12 to 18 years. Must be a resident of Lane County, Oregon.
Written entries limited to 1,000 words. No smaller than size 12 standard font. Keep a copy for yourself.
Postmark by: January 16, 2024
Prizes: First Place $300.00 * Second Place $200.00 * Third Place $100.00.

Winners will be announced by the end of February and winning submissions will be published in the March 2024 issue of Skipping Stones Magazine. They will receive a one-year subscription to Skipping Stones along with three multicultural books. Winners will be invited to the Soroptimist International of Eugene’s Live Your Dream Awards Dinner in March 2024. All submissions must have a cover letter telling us your name, age, school you attend, and contact information including e-mail address. The Soroptimist Media Consent Form and the Skipping Stones Permission to Publish Form must also be signed and attached.

Send submissions to: Soroptimist International of Eugene PO Box 10664, Eugene, OR 97440

To obtain a flyer and media consent forms please e-mail: sieugene@soroptimist.net                           SUBJECT: Creative Writing

Ideas to get you started:
The achievements of women discoverers and inventors have served as inspiration for modern-day women. Identify a woman who was/is a discoverer or an inventor. Talk about her accomplishments, achievements and the impact she has or had in her field. How did she shape history? Were there any gender equality obstacles?
What do you admire about her? Why don’t we hear more about women innovators?
About Soroptimist International of Eugene: Soroptimist International of Eugene has been supporting women and girls in Lane County since 1949 to achieve their full potential. Our Vision: Women and girls will have access to resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and live their dreams. Our Mission: Providing women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve social and economic empowerment. Email: sieugene@soroptimist.net  or Visit them online.

By mail, Contact: Soroptimist International of Eugene, P.O. Box 10664, Eugene, OR 97440

Celebrating 2023 Women’s History Month: S.T.E.M. Contest Winners Announced!

Soroptimist International of Eugene & Skipping Stones Magazine have announced the Winners of our 2023 Women in S.T.E.M. Awards. Read the winning entries here. The three winning entries were published in our March-August 2023 issue (released on March 8th). The winners were honored at the Awards Dinner on the International Women’s Day, March 8th, in Eugene.


Princess Diana (1961-1997)

Princess Diana (1961-1997). Portrait by Jon Bush, Massachusetts.

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

—Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997). She was a member of the British Royal Family and mother of Prince William and Prince Harry. Her kindness, activism and position made her an international icon.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg by artist Alix Mosieur of Loraine, Oregon.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) served as an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court for 27 years. She was appointed by President Clinton and became the second woman to serve in this important judicial capacity after Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice Ginsburg was a well-known champion of gender equality and women’s rights. She died on September 18th, 2020, at the age of 87, after her battle with pancreatic cancer. You might like to watch RBG (2018), a documentary about her life. 

Rosa Parks (Feb. 4, 1913 – Oct. 24, 2005)

Dr. Jean Moule (sitting next to Rosa’s statue outside the Eugene LTD Bus Station, above) writes in her Skipping Stones magazine (April – May 2015) column, “Rosa Parks (Feb. 4, 1913 – Oct. 24, 2005) has become a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement and an international icon. She is an image of one lone person taking a stance that made a very big difference. She was sitting in a part of the bus that allowed Colored (African American) people unless it was needed for a White rider. When she was asked to move back to make room for a White passenger she would not. Rosa was 42 years old at the time and she was no more tired than anyone would be after a long day of work.

Rosa said, “I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.”

You can read Professor Jean Moule’s Nana Jean Columns in her latest book, Seeking Warmth and Light. FMI moulej@oregonstate.edu.

Multicultural Museums: Helping Make Sense of Our National Identity

By Skipping Stones Staff

Museums can provide an essential, interactive, and engaging way to learn about cultural history—both for our own culture, and the culture of other people. Without knowing our history or roots, we may not fully feel like we belong—especially if we have differences from other people in a society (ethnicity, heritage, etc.). Many museums in the United States help teach about the multicultural history of the country. Some of these museums are located in the nation’s capital—Washington, D.C. They include the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among others. If you get the opportunity, take time to explore them!

1. National Museum of African American History and Culture

One of the newest additions to the Smithsonian family of museums is the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It shows the history of African Americans, from the first slaves brought over to the U.S., to the reconstruction era after the Civil War, and the civil rights movement of the 20th century. The museum helps visitors understand the impact of these experiences through stories, interactive exhibits, and the overall atmosphere. Many visitors say the experience is very powerful. and that it helped them better understand the history of the United States, because the history of the country has been significantly impacted by the history of African Americans.

The museum also contains exhibits and cultural items showcasing the lives of famous African Americans, from basketball player Kobe Bryant to singer Chuck Berry. It shows how these cultural icons have contributed to American culture and inspired countless people of all races, and it teaches about the racial barriers they faced in climbing to their success.

The museum also shows how African American culture is not just a unified block. There are different African American subcultures in various regions of the country. We see how geography affects the traditions, identity, and community of a group of people. Thus, African American culture in Chicago will be very different than in Birmingham, Alabama, for example.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture not only helps African Americans better understand their own history, but it also helps people of all races understand the contributions of African Americans in shaping the country’s culture and history.

Museum Website: https://nmaahc.si.edu/

Digital Resources from the Museum: https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/nmaahc-digital-resource-guide

2. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 

Another museum that tells the powerful story of a people is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It offers visitors a glimpse into an event that killed six million Jews—approximately two-thirds of Jewish people in Europe, during the 1930s and ‘40s. The museum depicts some of the events leading up the Holocaust, the horrors of the genocide that occurred, and how the events of that time shaped global history and culture. The exhibits help us understand how and why the Holocaust occurred and how to ensure something like that does not happen again. To that end, there are also other exhibits that detail types of genocide occurring in the present day, in places in the world.

One floor of the museum is dedicated to understanding how the Nazi Party gained power in the 1930s. This is particularly poignant because it shows how blind hatred for a group of people can lead society to allow extremist governments into power. Obviously, it is possible for this to happen again, unless people avoid getting complacent when they see hatred swelling in a society.

Another floor is dedicated to showing the Nazi’s policies towards Jewish people, including their ostracization, relocation to concentration camps, and mass murders. The final floor covers the liberation of Jewish people from concentration camps and the events after the Holocaust. The museum depicts these eventsthrough photos, Holocaust artifacts, historical footage and commentary.

The museum also hosts conversations with Holocaust survivors to provide first-hand takes on the experience, and has special exhibits dedicated to other genocides around the world, including those occurring in Burma, Sudan, and other places. Furthermore, it has online exhibits that generate further discussion about events and people related to the Holocaust, including Anne Frank, the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany, and global responses to the event.

Visitors to this museum come away with a much better appreciation for the specific details of what occurred during the Holocaust and why it is so important to be aware of what is going on in the world today, so we can avoid another atrocity like this from happening again.

General Museum Website: https://www.ushmm.org/

The online exhibits can be viewed at: https://www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/online-exhibitions

3. National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian

Located in Washington, D.C. with a branch in New York City, the National Museum of the American Indian is also a part of the Smithsonian Institute. This museum presents a lot of information that is left out of school textbooks about the history of Native Americans, Native American treaties, how Native Americans viewed the relationship between people and nature, and more. It’s the first national museum dedicated to Native Americans and has a series of rotating exhibits that ensure during each trip you take there, you learn something new. 

As the first national museum in the country dedicated to Native Americans, it not only contains objects, photos, media, and videos about Native Americans who lived on the land that is now the United States, but it also offers exhibits about Native people from what is now northern Canada all the way to the southern tip of South America. The exhibits don’t just show people the ways of Native American life, but they also give a taste of the Native American spirit. People who have Native American heritage can learn about their ancestors and get in touch with that aspect of their culture; People who don’t have that heritage can learn about the unique traditions, perspectives, and ways of life of people who lived in this part of the world long before European settlers arrived.

Museum Website: https://americanindian.si.edu/

Online Resources: https://americanindian.si.edu/online-resources/exhibition-websites

4. Latino Museums

Additionally, a new Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of the American Latino, will be constructed in Washington, D.C. Although an opening date is not yet available, the museum will be dedicated to showcasing Latino history, art, culture, and scientific achievement. It aims to show how these contributions have influenced American culture overall.

While it won’t be ready for a while, there are many other museums around the country that you can visit and learn about Latino heritage. One of these is the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Texas. This museum strives to preserve Latino and Mexican art and cultural artifacts, and it also aims to engage with the community in discussions about Latino heritage. In addition to showing the art of various Mexican and Latino artists, it conducts outreach events, cultural programs, and hosts speakers. Some of the rotating exhibits contain work by up-and-coming artists and teenagers. Others focus on showing the variety of traditions and lifestyles within the Latino community. Visitors get a much richer appreciation of the diversity of Latino culture.

Museum Website: https://mexic-artemuseum.org/

Mexic-Arte Online Exhibitions: https://mexic-artemuseum.org/online-exhibitions/

National Museum of the American Latino Museum: https://latino.si.edu/about/national-museum-american-latino


Museums can be powerful learning experiences. We often may walk out of the doors feeling solemn, as though we have learned something important, because we see in vivid images and stories how various ethnic groups have been treated or persecuted. Many ethnic groups have faced violence simply because of who they are. Visiting museums is an enriching experience, providing a detailed knowledge about the history of different cultures in a way we do not get at school.

Longing to Leave

By maggie d. , African American poet, Washington.

Frost and snow puzzles me

Hailing from Sudan

Icicles and sleet

Billowing clouds holding no

Heat

Makes me weep

For sandy dust sweeping

Across tan dunes 

Never ruining my shoes

With muddy slush of melted snow

Oh

Without constant sun

Running for fun

Getting drenched by rain

Has made me aim

For returning to Wad Madani

Leaving behind winter

Without a whimper

I will laugh again with 

Sunglasses on to watch

Camels parade upon dirt roads

But I suppose it will take awhile

For Alab to say

“Goodbye Sigh-beria!”

By Maggie d., Washington.